Wednesday 20 September 2023

The Ghost of Star Wars Past

Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) is having a field day with some of the best Star Wars in decades in Ahsoka on Disney+.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, looks back at the midseason episode and steps into an enigmatic World Between Worlds (personally, a poignant metaphor for being in a coma).

Guest post by Nick Smith

The Sith are out there, lurking in the darkness, betrayed only by a blood-red halo, eyes pitted and grey from living in the shadows too long. They must exist, because who else would post Ahsoka spoilers at midnight on Tano Tuesday for unsuspecting fans to find, crushing their joy with a clip?

While such creatures are present online, there are a ragtag few good-hearted champions of entertainment at Lucasfilm, and they are making pure, unadulterated original Star Wars.

Did I say original? Perhaps ‘classic’ would be more apt.

The now-numerous Disney+ Star Wars animated and live-action spin-off series have tinkered with a whole bunch of different genres, celebrating some of George Lucas’ influences and the saga’s storytelling potential, showcasing the versatility of the showrunners and avoiding narrative stagnation.

From spaghetti westerns to lone wolf samurai epics, World War II commando thrillers and Native American vision quest epics, modern Star Wars has it all.

Ahsoka goes back to basics, with a focus on lightsabre duels, clear-cut good and bad guys, dogfight duels in space and snarky droids - Chopper and Huyang (David Tennant). It’s not rocket science, it’s George Lucas-style science fiction, with solid storytelling that never feels like a mere merchandising grab.

Unsurprisingly, the show has been a hit with most fans, delving into Ahsoka Tano’s (Rosario Dawson) battle-scarred life without completely alienating casual viewers.

With cosmic wars come galaxy-sized guilt, especially if you were drafted to lead armies in your mid-teens as Tano was. Imagine being barely out of short britches and having to watch the men under your command get injured and die, or a civilization laid to ruins on your watch.

In The World Between Worlds, Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) spirit takes a young Tano (Ariana Greenblatt) back to these past battles where she must choose whether to live or die. Since The World Between Worlds exists in a different, astral dimension, Tano’s body in the real world is drowning. Only a child can perceive both worlds and help find Tano’s dwindling form.

Not only has Tano seen a lot of clones and allies die, but she’s also seen her friend and mentor Anakin break bad in the worst possible way. Would things have been different if she’d stuck by him? We’ll never know for sure, and the Ahsoka series is too subtle to spell out the truth. Nevertheless, by helping his padawan to face her regrets and choose life, Anakin helps her and takes another step on his own road to redemption.

At the mid-point of the series, episode 5 – Shadow Warrior – focuses on a piece of Star Wars that most of its imitators forget; the spiritual side. In the real world, sometimes it feels like we’re drowning under the weight of loss, regret and guilt. It’s comforting to imagine a World Between Worlds where all possibilities are attainable, at least in astral form, to teach us a little about ourselves.

New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday exclusively on Disney+.

Are you watching Ahsoka on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Nick Smith's new audiobook, Undead on Arrival, is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

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